Headlines: July 15th, 2004

A consortium of local councils in the Midlands is set to launch one of the most advanced Smart Card initiatives in the UK. The Black Country Smart Card will make it easier and quicker for people to access public services. The cards can be used for e-voting. Adults participating in education initiatives can earn points that can be redeemed for goods and services. Smart Cards are also being used to encourage the younger generation to provide feedback on the social issues that affect them and to enable those without computers to reach services electronically via public access kiosks. Negotiations are also underway in the private sector to develop security and cashless purchasing applications replacing money to buy anything from snacks and stationery to cab rides and concert ticketsThe Black Country Consortium, which is made up of the metropolitan councils of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, & Wolverhampton, is piloting the cards in community learning centres. The initiative is breaking new ground by working with a group of councils and providing multi-applications.